The Top 10 of 2012

For reference: 2011

1) Internship with Moody’s: I can’t say I deserved it. Nor can I say I was enthusiastic to accept it. I don’t know how I got it, and I don’t know how I darn enjoyed it and loved it so much, but I did. I made friends from across the country years my senior. I worked with people, and I liked working with people. I drank with them, I worked with them, I played ping-pong with them, and I realized: I had finally become social. My manager Mary was amazing, nice, and cared about my workload. My coworker Vivek cared for me and my intellectual growth like I was his own child. I couldn’t have been more lucky to be working with them.  I built an automation tool from scratch, a project nobody else wanted to undertake. At the end of it all, I had a nice lunch with my coworkers and then made an hour long presentation about this tool. I went from nothing to something. Which brings me to my next point…

2) Sense of confidence in craziness at the end of summer/early fall: I had done something great for Moody’s, and they wanted to keep me. But I also had school and a boatload of technical requirements to finish. My idea: take the first few weeks of the semester to finish my project. And work my schedule (at the time, 5 classes including 4 technical ones) around my work hours. What resulted was complete hecticness. But I was doing a good job, and people were telling me I was doing a good job. I think the peak of everything came when I went to SF and back twice in one day, while still going to a career fair, whilst staying in my workplace until midnight, taking the last BART train back to Berkeley. But I was confident in what I was doing because people were praising me. And I was getting requests for hangouts every few days. This was perhaps the most complete me I have ever felt. And I had no problems conversing to people, or telling people my philosophies. For a moment, I was who I wanted. Then…

3) Sense of stagnation latter third of the year: Zzzzz. My internship died. My research with Prof. Romps (see below) died. My research with Dimitri was dying. My mind was dead with no projects. Really, all I was doing was schoolwork. There was a brief moment when I had little contact with friends, as…

4) Breakup, Departure of Berkeleyan + LZ: In the middle of all the internship stuff, I broke up with Vicki, though I remained friends with her. My Berkeleyan friends left for South side, and LZ left for Britain. All the friends I had visited when I was lonely, all the confidants I had when things were tough, all my source of adventures… they were gone. But alas, a savior was born…

5) Yearbook: I really cannot say how much Yearbook saved me. I rode my social/confidence wave (see bullet 2) into Yearbook and was able to make new friends, even when my contact with Berkeleyan/Vicki/internship friends was lost. I cannot really express how much I enjoy the company of friends like Jess, Krystal, Delia, Jane, Justin, Yoyo, Keith, Adrienne, Alice/Jenn, among others (sorry if you read this and your name was omitted!). I think many people know this but I tend to get myself delirious when I’m alone. Being with “Yerds” kept me from doing so. I will always remember and cherish those 4 AM nights working on spreads, or those 6 AM nights during finals week, or those times tabling, or those ghost stories in the car on the way to retreat, lol. And as for all the stress of coming up with things to do during photo team meetings, or wondering if I was a good photo editor… I can say was worth it.

6) Research with Romps, Conflicts: This sounded good. And it was good. Just, not great. When I expect things will be good, I hope they will be great. My experience with Romps wasn’t super great. First off the whole deal with two URAP projects, I had to jump some ropes to get that to work with both professors. And after the dust settled, sometimes I just was too busy to dedicate myself to what I was doing. The two research projects rammed into each other in terms of time conflicts. So it was hard to get into a groove, and I think Romps noticed that and didn’t bother keeping me for a second semester. GG.

7) Job Instead of Grad School: In retrospect, my two research experiences definitely helped me on this decision. Not to mention my crappy GRE score. I think Dimitri’s contacts helped me a lot on this, not to mention his bad experience with his PhD.

8) A Near-4.0 Year: I think I really found my groove academically this year. I’ve always struggled with a few B’s here and there in previous semesters. Though this positive d(GPA)/dt really doesn’t mean anything now that I’m not going to grad school, it means a lot to me personally. Here was a challenge, a person slow at problem solving, going into exams and never really excelling in them. But through a lot of hard work and a lot of bad exams, I was able to figure out how to tackle and overcome my weaknesses, and build on my problem solving skills. For the first time, I experienced the adage of college being a time where you learn how to learn more than anything else.

9) Moar LaTeX, Moar Problems: At the same time I innovated to get better at taking physics exams, I gained an interest in doing problems. Of my own. Combine that with oh-so-beautiful LaTeX typesetting, and you’ve a new hobby. I’ve written about seven (unfinished) documents thus far, with others pending/in progress/in planning stages.

10) China Trip: This was only at the end of the year, but noteworthy nonetheless. This is my birthplace, my history, my motherland. Seeing it for the first time (okay, I saw it when I was one year old) opened my eyes. This is a yet untapped world here. The subways, infrastructure, roads, bridges and architecture are amazing. Everything is new, juxtaposed with the old. The good, juxtaposed with teh bad. The rich live in the city, the poor live on the outskirts — opposite of the U.S. The food is cheap, almost as cheap as the country’s labor. The air is bad, almost as bad as the smoke from the smokers, or the spit from the spitters, a cruel irony against the white, eternally clean subways. I am glad to have seen this New World.

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